U.S. military detains 200 in Iraq operation

A U.S. soldier with 2nd Platoon, G Company, 3rd Squadron 2nd striker Cavalry Regiment checks a bullet hole in a wall during a patrol in Baghdad, November 10, 2007. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - U.S. and Iraqi forces have detained more than 200 suspected insurgents and three “high-value” al Qaeda operatives in a major operation in northern Iraq, the U.S. military said on Sunday.

It said in a statement that significant progress had been made against al Qaeda in Iraq during the first week of the operation in four northern provinces.

The operation had also netted multiple weapons caches that included more than a tonne of various explosives, hundreds of artillery rounds and rockets, the statement added.

“The combined operations of Iraqi Security Forces and U.S. Army brigades in our four provinces in Northern Iraq have been nothing short of phenomenal,” said U.S. Major-General Mark Hertling, a senior military commander in Iraq.

The operation aims to keep up pressure on Sunni Islamist al Qaeda. Many operatives from the militant group fled to northern Iraq from western Anbar province and Baghdad when the U.S. military stepped up offensives in those areas earlier this year.

The U.S. military has hailed what it calls successes in fighting al Qaeda in Iraq, but has warned that the group, which is blamed for most major car bombings in Iraq, could regroup.